Firstly, I would like to offer my congratulations to Indian Newslink on the occasion of your 19th anniversary. Thank you for all the hard work that you have done, strengthening connections in your community over those years.
We have also recently celebrated a significant anniversary.
It has now been a year since the Coalition Government came into office – and what a busy year it has been!
From increasing police numbers, tackling environment issues and lifting family incomes to investing in our regions, hospitals and schools, we have been getting on with the job of building a modern, fairer New Zealand.
As we reach the end of our first twelve months in Government, it is a good chance to reflect on all we have achieved so far.
We have done a lot this year – too much to list here – but there are a couple of our achievements that really stand out to me.
One of these is our Families Package, which came into effect in July.
I am really proud of the Package because I know it will make a huge difference for our children.
The Package helps ease the pressure on working families and will lift thousands of children out of poverty. Once fully rolled out, 384,000 families will be getting, on average, an extra $75 each week.
There is a weekly payment to help with the costs of a new-born, and we are helping older people afford heating through winter.
The Package also increases paid parental leave to 22 weeks (and we will be extending this to 26 weeks by 2020).
I have received countless letters, emails and social media messages from people letting me know how the extra support has already helped them.
One mother, a widow, told me that the extra money meant she could buy her son a raincoat, winter thermals and warm bedding, and they were both healthier as she could now afford firewood for their home.
Another woman got in touch to let me know how much the Winter Energy Payment helped her mother, who had previously struggled to fill her cupboards as she tried to pay her power bill.
I have really appreciated hearing this feedback, but I know there is still more to be done.
The Families Package is just one part of our plan to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families.
Making sure everyone has a warm, dry and healthy place to call home is another priority for us. Our Government inherited a housing crisis, and we have worked hard in our first year to tackle this.
One of the ways we are doing this is through KiwiBuild, our programme to build affordable homes for first home buyers.
Families will be moving into the first KiwiBuild homes in the next few months, which is really exciting.
We have also stopped selling off state houses, invested in better support for the homeless and introduced measures to make renting healthier and fairer.
We have also worked hard over the past year to make our communities safer.
Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home and neighbourhood, which is why we have invested in more police.
We have announced an extra 1800 frontline officers over the next three years, including extra support in our regions and rural communities – areas which have been neglected in the past.
So far, more than 800 new Police Officers have been deployed, and we are well on our way to meeting our target.
As we head into our second year in Government, we will be working hard to build on the progress we have made already.
We will be rebuilding more hospitals and schools, recruiting more police to keep our communities safe, helping young people into work through programmes like Mana in Mahi, backing smart companies by supporting research and development, investing in jobs and opportunities in our regions, and much more.
And all this while running surpluses and paying down debt.
I am really proud of what we have achieved – and we are just getting started.
I am looking forward to the next 12 months and continuing our work towards a modern, fairer New Zealand.
If you want to know more about what is ahead, check out Our Plan, which sets out the Coalition Government’s long-term priorities at beehive.govt.nz/ourplan.
Finally, I hope you all enjoyed Diwali and this year’s celebrations! I certainly enjoyed the festival at Aotea Square, and wish you all the best for the year ahead.
Jacinda Ardern is Prime Minister of New Zealand.
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at work (Picture Supplied)
- Jacinda Ardern, Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa and Priyanca Radhakrishnan with Zara and Kiyaan Khan (children of Radio Tarana Managing Director Robert Khan at Diwali 2018) Picture Supplied
- Jacinda Ardern with Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa and Priyanca Radhakrishnan with Zara and Kiyaan Khan (children of Radio Tarana Managing Director Robert Khan at Diwali 2018) Picture Supplied
- Jacinda Ardern with (from left) Fiji Consul General and Trade Commissioner Australia New Zealand (based in Sydney) Zarak Khan, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr, India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Sanjiv Kohli, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Police Minister Stuart Nash, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges and Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa at the Eleventh Annual Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards held on Monday, November 26, 2018 at SkyCity Convention Centre, Auckland (Picture for Indian Newslink by Narendra Bedekar)